The ever changing socio-economic reality within protected areas, followed by the almost inevitable land-use changes have caused the deterioration or -even worse- the disappearance of many wildlife habitats such as wetlands, sand dunes, riverine vegetation and so on. At such a time of rapid change, protected areas management authorities play a crucial, important role: safeguarding the natural capital –habitats and flora-fauna species-, monitoring biodiversity, implementing decisive management practices and last, but not least, demonstrating and communicating the importance of nature conservation. All the above tasks should be applied within the framework of an appropriate management plan.
Apart from being an absolute necessity for the site managers and policy makers, the adoption of management plans for protected areas is required under various legal instruments, national or European, including legislative acts such as the Biodiversity Conservation Act No. 3937 of 2011 or the EU Habitat & Birds Directives. Management plans should be devised for all legally declared protected areas (i.e. National Parks, Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) etc.) and approved by the minister of Environment and Energy, whereas specific Decisions or Regulations issued by the respective ministers on agricultural or fishing activities within the protected areas and included in the Management Plans are binding legislative acts addressed to all users, stakeholders, visitors and so on.
The Management Plan of the Axios Delta National Park falls into the above category and was conducted by the Management Authority in collaboration with the Directorate of Environment & Spatial Planning (the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace). The project titled “Environmental Management Plan for the protected area of Axios-Loudias-Aliakmonas Estuaries” was undertaken by Omikron Ltd, ENVECO S.A. and was delivered in 2012.
The Management Plan defines the priorities and the guidelines for the implementation of projects, actions and measures aiming to the effective conservation and management of the protected natural assets. The Management Plan provides all the necessary general (location, site status, legal constraints and permissions) and environmental (physical, biological, cultural) information for site managers to gain an overall impression of conservation objectives and their importance for the structure and function of the ecosystems, so as to set comprehensive management goals and initiate appropriate measures for their fulfillment. Finally, it identifies all pressures/threats imposed to biodiversity and problems/challenges to be addressed or taken into account, concluding to the production of Action Plans that specify all the necessary measures, actions and work programs, their phases, cost estimates, resources and financing as well as the implementation authorities.
Management Authorities are responsible for the preparation and implementation of Management Plans under the legal act No. 2742 of 1999 and the Biodiversity Conservation act No. 3937of 2011.